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Abnormally heavy turnout for SA special election

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The Student Association senate has a full roster following a record turnout in the winter special election.

Over 920 students cast their ballot from noon Wednesday until the polls closed two days later, a sharp increase from the 620 who voted in last year’s special election.

“This is the highest [number of voters] I’ve seen, and I’ve been around for five years,” said Raymond Webb, a graduate assistant for student governments and former SA senate chair.

According to Webb, the number of students on the ballot likely contributed to the above average voter turnout rate this election.

The 26 students who vied to fill the seven vacancies on SA’s roster following a string of resignations, graduations and impeachments last semester is the largest number of nominees on any special election ballot in recent memory.

“Usually in special elections you have write-in’s who are winning, or you have one person on the ballot for a quad,” said Webb. “It’s good, the more candidates we have the more voters turn out.”


Graphics by Tyler A. McNeil / ASP

After successful campaigns, Nick Gonzalez, Kelly Zelaya, and Mitchell Hura filled three at-large vacancies; while Justin Martins, Alodie Keza, Lilly Umana and Garrett Hermann claimed the open seats for off-campus, Colonial, Indian, and Alumni, respectively.  

“I’m feeling pretty excited,” said Gonzalez moments after finding out his campaign was successful. “It’s my first Student Association election so I was pretty nervous.”

Gonzalez already has plans for the upcoming semester.

“I want to get to know the student body to see what the pressing issues are for them,” he said. “I have a loud voice and I plan to use that in the senate.”

After an unsuccessful campaign last semester, Indian Quad’s Lilly Umana was on the winning end this season.

“I am so excited to get to serve in this role and represent all of the Great Danes living on Indian Quad,” she said in a statement. “Representation of my fellow Indian Quad residents, and ensuring their voices are heard is definitely my main goal as Indian Quad senator, and I cannot wait to serve them.”

Current SA leadership reacted positively to the election results.

“It’s fantastic,” said Mark Anthony Quinn, chairman of the appropriations committee. “It’s amazing to see how many people actually ran and how many voters turned out.”

“People are a lot more involved in student organizations and they see that SA can do stuff for their student organizations,” said Chair of the Elections Commission Danielle Haft of the high voter turnout “They want to advocate on behalf of their organization and this is a good way for them to do that.”

Senate Chair Jarrett Altilio said this election is a good opportunity for the senate to assess what needs to be done in the semester ahead.

“There’s a lot of specific tasks moving forward,” said Altilio. “I’m excited to meet with a lot of the new senators over the weekend so we can figure out where their preferences are, where they want to be and how they want to help.”


Chad Arnold is a reporter for the Albany Student Press covering Student Association affairs. He is also an die-hard heavy metal fan.

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